Monday, November 15, 2010

Arizona Breast Cancer 3 Day - Day 1, 2, and 3

I was nervous this year. I didn't train like I had the first year I did it (back in 2008) and I am only 7 months out of knee surgery (ACL replacement and meniscus repair). I surprisingly fit my clothes, sleeping bag, and pillow into my pack Thursday night and dropped it off first thing Friday morning and trailer "B". Then I made the walk to the opening ceremonies. I was VERY happy to see they had coffee and since I was there early enough (I got there at 6am) I didn't have to wait in line to get it! I then started looking for my teammates. Here we are in front of the "Opening Ceremonies" poster!

From there we moved into the "holding area" to watch the opening ceremonies and get ready to begin the long 60 mile journey. I always hold up fairly well (because frankly...the ceremony is a bit cheesy) but tears DO fill my eyes when the flags come out and the survivor circle is formed.

The small white flags in the middle have the names of those we remember who have lost their lives to breast cancer...we walk in remembrance of them but also in celebration of those who are still with us - the very heart of the surviver circle!

Then our journey began:

We stretched along the way: (Photo of Cindy and John - two teammates from the Ta-Ta Sisterhood!)

And we finished! I only did 10 miles the first day as I was unsure about how my knee would hold up - I was feeling pretty good here:

I then visited the Remembrance tent. You see the photos hanging up around the tent are those walkers who walked with us that have since lost their battle with breast cancer. It is very emotional in this tent and the environment is very peaceful. You take away their strength as you look at their pictures and remember those who you walk for - even though you did not know them. This year one photo stopped me in my tracks. There was a young woman who walked in the San Diego walk - passed away at the age of 29! I am only 25 and it is hard to imagine what she had gone through in her fight. I don't know her story - but her photo told me so much!
 There was also lines of the remembrance tents from each of the events prior to the Phoenix 3 Day. They were all signed by walkers in remembrance of those they love. Many "I love you and miss you Mom"'s and "You are not forgotten"s. Taking the time to walk and read some of these messages really gives you more strength to go out and walk another million miles so one day our walking will be in celebration that the cure has been found and breast cancer is no more than a moment in our history.

After walking the first day - you must set up your tent. I didn't bring decorations as I am not a very creative person...I do good to dress myself! lol One of our teammates decorated her tent though and it was a cute little puppy!!!

Sometime while I was eating dinner - the last walker arrived into camp. We all get to cheer them on and they get to raise the flag "One day closer to the end of breast cancer!"

Around 9pm it is quiet time and I headed to bed (and believe sounds early but after walking so much and having such an emotional first are ready for it!) I FROZE the first night as it got into the 40's...however, I couldn't help but think how easy sleeping in the cold was compared to what some folks go through when they are dealing with their medical issues. I did it happily the second night.

That's all for now. I will try to post Day 2 and Day 3 soon....I need to go to bed so I will wake up for work in the morning!



The morning of the second day you realize that you walked a lot the first day do you JUST realize that? Well - you try to get up out of your tent and can barely move you are so sore and stiff...haha...that's how. I had slept in my clothes for the following day the night before - mostly so they'd be somewhat warm and also so I wouldn't have to strip down in the chill of the morning to change clothes. I hopped up and washed my face and headed to breakfast where the early, cheery people were. I am NOT a morning person - sorry :) It still was nice seeing so many people excited about another 20 miles of memories and personal accomplishments. 

One thing you look forward to the most on your journey are 1) Cheer Stations and 2) Walker Stalkers. There are many along the route - usually 2 cheer stations a day and TONS of walker stalkers who you get to know throughout the weekend because you see them at least 2 - 4 times throughout your 20 mile days.

 These folks were dressed up different EVERY DAY to come out and cheer us on :-)

And of course the TA TA SISTERHOOD'S favorite Walker Stalkers - Beckie, Lizzy, and Monkey :-) They are also teammates of mine!
At Pit Stop number 2 on day 2 - my two favorite guys came to cheer me on! 
Jasper even put on his new t-shirt I bought him from the 3 Day store!

Another fun part of the walking is coming to each "Pit Stop" and seeing what the theme is. Each one has it's own theme. I didn't get a picture of it on my camera - but there was a Wonderland pitstop this year and it was SOOO cute and fun (and they had candy). 

Lunch is always a time to air out the feet and stretch and eat/refuel for the second half of the day. I decided that I should end after lunch and take the SAG bus (which gets you some cool buttons the "all-the-way" walkers don't get by the way) back to camp. Below is a picture of the lunch stop and also a picture of the bus getting ready to head back to camp from lunch! Yee haw!

While I'm on the topic of "buses" - there are also "Sweeper Vans" along the route. Their jobs are to cheer on the walkers, honk at the walkers, yell "WOO HOO" at the walkers, etc. Additionally, if a walker throws his or her arms up over her head in an "X" when a sweeper van is passing - they pull over and DRIVE you to the next pit stop where you can get medical attention or possibly take a SAG bus back to the camp. They rock and take good care of us walkers all weekend.
I don't know what you would call them - but I call them "BIKER GUYS" and they also rock - like everything else about this weekend (I know "ROCK" is my only adjective I have been using but it is true hehe). These guys are crazy fun - they sometimes play music and dance and encourage us to dance even though we hate ourselves for making our bodies walk sooooo much in one day. They also deal with traffic so we don't get run over when not paying attention to traffic because we are more interested in our conversations with others on the trail or with the blisters on our feet or....just everything else except traffic. 

DAY 2 (of walking) DONE!

Ok - now back to camp. Some often wonder "Hmmm - they are walking 60 miles in 3 days and they sleep in tents at night and um....eww porta potties. How do these ladies and gents stay 'clean'?" Well the answer my friends is "PORTA KLEEN"! Portable showers! I actually LOVE portable showers. They are the BEST ending to a day of walking out in the sun. You just hop right up in this trailer (as you can see below) and find an empty stall and enjoy hot water showers. They really spoil us beyond belief on this walk (now if only they can figure out a way to make portable toilets as amazing as portable showers...doubt it but that's a new goal).

 For dinner on night 2 we got steak and I obviously enjoyed mine! (see picture below....I'm such a strange person)

DAY 2 - OVER! Another day closer to the end of breast cancer!
 After dinner there was a "Camp Show" and an evening which ended with a DANCE PARTY! The picture below shows all of the guys who had to get up on stage and dance for all of us women! I loved it!

 Then it is off to our sea of pink tents for the night - again 9pm never comes soon enough! This second night they issued us all mylar blankets to help keep warm. They were loud but definitely were magical with the amount of heat it kept in my sleeping bag for me!



Day 3 was the hardest for me this year. It was only 15 miles as there were extra miles tacked on to the first 2 days - so I decided to do the whole thing! It was also an emotional day because you knew your journey would be over - you were happy it was going to be over - you were sad it was going to be over - you were overwhelmed because you had made it so far and in the name of something you are so passionate about....I could go on and on about the emotional wear-you-outs. I'm just going to post about this day with picture comments. Enjoy:
Two of my teammates and I after riding the bus to the beginning of Day 3. We started at the foot of Camelback mountain and ended at the Arizona State Fair Grounds - now that's a long walk :) 

First thing we got to see in the morning was the THUNDER DOWN UNDER - and it brightened my morning....not so sure John appreciated it as much and Cindy and I - but it was nice.

I'm a super hero!

Just showing off my pack - I was carrying my second pair of shoes the third day in honor of those of my friends who have lost loved ones to breast cancer and therefore couldn't walk with us. I also donated those shoes at the very end as they were worn out from all of the walking.

Nothing is sweeter than going to get your Victory shirt! :) 

The last walker is coming in for the day - everyone surrounds them and loves on them and cheers for them and we are ready to CELEBRATE!


Closing Ceremonies

We honor the survivors as they walk into the middle for closing ceremonies. We walk for them! And we love them!

Closing Ceremony - Survivor's Circle - we WILL conquer this disease.

Survivor dance party :-) I loved it and it was very inspiring to see all of the strong men and women who walked the 60 miles with us celebrating their personal victories. They are far stronger than I could ever be and I love them for it!